True colors

You guys, IT IS ALMOST TIME TO PAINT. Confession: I have been looking forward to this since we started the project. I love colors, and living in an all-white rental house has made me perhaps obsessively excited about picking colors for our new house! Of course it is also a bit intimidating… so like any true nerd, I started playing around with ideas in PowerPoint. This is the current permutation that I am most happy with – BUT, the big bummer of sharing this electronically is that it’s going to look different to every single person who views it because of variability in computer monitors (so if you think it’s totally heinous, blame your computer!). I’m providing the closest match for each color from the Behr paint deck (the one I had on hand) – so if you are truly super duper into this project, you can grab some swatches and play along at home. I’ll also try to give a verbal description of each color so you can hopefully picture it even if your monitor is much different than mine.

Downstairs: I wanted the whole open kitchen/living room/loft space to feel bright and cheerful, but not be overwhelmingly saturated with color. We are also going to have a multi-toned wood floor (more on that later – we’re using flooring that was cut from barn beams from Brandon’s grandmother’s farm), and there are also the dark ceiling beams to contend with (although the decking between them will be white). To balance/compliment all of that wood, I decided to go with a bright greeny-yellow. The original one that caught my eye was a Benjamin Moore color (Fresh Cut Grass, 2026-50), but this is a really close match to the Behr color called Pear (400A-3). Loooove this color, and can’t wait to get a sample up in the house to make sure it’s as gorgeous on the wall as it is in the paint deck.

Because that color will be visible almost everywhere in the house (upstairs and downstairs), everything else had to go with it to some degree. There is a huge wide doorway into the dining room, so for there I needed something that would match but that would also be a bit more “formal.” This color is tricky to describe, but I was looking for a warm (red-toned) neutral – kind of clay-y or taupe-y (I just sensed every man in my life rolling his eyes… sorry guys). The other colors downstairs are a bit easier to describe – I wanted a bright peacock blue for the guest room (inspired by this fantastic room from Young House Love – although ours will be a bit more turquoise), and a brick/terra cotta orange for the bathroom.

(You can click on the pic to make it bigger.)

Upstairs: The greeny-yellow carries upstairs to the loft walkway, so again I wanted something for the bedrooms that would match, but be a little more sedate and calming. The color I picked is another red-toned neutral, but it’s a bit more gray and less brown than the dining room. For now we decided to leave both upstairs bedrooms the same color. I liked the symmetry, and we figured that for the most part we’ll be using bedroom #2 as a walk-in closet, so it’ll be nice to tie it all together. The two rooms are joined by the master bath, which I saw as another opportunity to add a fun color without overwhelming a large space with it. This color is just what it sounds like – a really deep but lovely plum.

So, that’s what I’m thinking for now… Of course this could all change at a moment’s notice! But, we just got word that drywall should be done this week, which means painting could start next week. The professional painter is going to do the two-story “great room” area (basically all of the greeny-yellow above), but we’ll be in charge of bedrooms and bathrooms. And “go time” should be juuuuust before my mom and dad get into town for a visit next week… muahahaha.


  1. Ok, this might be a monitor issue, because the colors in your sketch look quite green, but when I looked up the paint swatches you named online they were much more yellow– and this applies I think more to the green end of things– ANDDDDD I don't mean to poop on your parade — so I apologize in advance– but beware of greeny-yellows — they can change drastically in different lights. My green room was lovely by day, garish by night. And my downstairs yellow did some weird things in changing light as well. I don't know how you test this adequately to get the right shade without painting and repainting the house 12 times….


  2. I love all the colors except the greeny yellow, which is also a great color but I worry will be overwhelming. Colors get both richer and brighter when you're surrounded by them. I made that mistake with the green we previously had in our living room. I thought it was super pale! Anyway you should definitely get a sample of it and paint a big piece of wall to get an idea. It is easy to cover.
    The color I used in our kitchen is probably too sedate for you but I think it is bright and pretty: Benjamin Moore Pearl Harbor, and goes with all my other bright colors.
    The only other suggestion I would have is to consider some kind of accent with your plum downstairs and your peacock blue upstairs, to tie everything together. Like the red in my living room that appears behind the bookcase in my study… and the blue and gold that reappear everywhere.
    Okay only one more suggestion :). I believe Benjamin Moore is better quality than Behr. Just my perception…


  3. Thank you both for the thoughts/suggestions – definitely all good things to consider! We are for sure planning on getting a number of samples in the greeny-yellow family so we can paint big tester areas and go check them out at multiple times of day. Hopefully we can find one that will be cheerful but not overwhelming, and also nice in different light conditions… maybe this is asking too much! We shall see…

    As for brands, I know BM is really good – we are hoping to have whatever we pick color-matched in a low/no VOC line. I'd heard good things about the Olympic Premium that Lowe's uses for color matching, but we heard today that it isn't great and may actually come off when you wash the walls – yikes. Sooo, still up in the air on that one. I think that the professional painter who is doing some of the work usually uses Sherwin Williams, but I don't know too much about that brand.

    Off to update the slideshow with new photos from the exterior painting that happened today!


  4. Sherwin Williams is what we used here, and I liked it– they have one that's a low VOC line… I forget what it's called. It's a little runnier than some of their other paints, but not bad as I recall. (The other one we were using was the “SUPER paint” which is extra thick–so it may not even be a fair comparison). At any rate, I think we slept in that room the night we painted it, without complaint, and that's saying a lot given the way my head reacts to chemicals and odor.


  5. So glad I posted this – I am taking notes on all your tips. ๐Ÿ˜‰ That is good to know about the SW low-VOC line – I'll look into that. I get the woozies/headaches from paint fumes too, so I'm glad to hear you did fine with that one.

    SUPER paint sounds exciting!


  6. This month's House Beautiful (the one with Tyler Florence's Kitchen of the Year) had a room painted with Fresh Cut Grass in it, and although looking at the swatch I thought it would be too green it looked great on the walls. Actually the only color I'm kind of meh about is the Fall Leaves one. It just doesn't look like an appetizing shade of brown to me but it might look different on the walls too.


  7. Ooh, thanks Jessica – I will check that out! It will be nice to see the color on some walls…

    The fall leaves one looks a little too dark on my monitor, but I messed with it and couldn't get it quite right so I gave up. These are all “ish” colors at this point – I want to get a bunch of samples and check 'em out in the house before committing!


  8. When we were painting a few years ago, my mom's artist friend swore by the brand C2. I think it was a bit pricier, but so beautiful and great quality! Man, I love your house!


  9. We have used SW's Harmony line (their low/no VOC line) on every painted surface of our house and we love it! The bases have no VOCs but the pigments you add has a minimal amount of them. That is how every paint color is unless someone has come up with a no VOC pigment recently.

    We used Shawgreen from SW for our bedroom which is a yellow/green but isn't “primary bright”. You can tell because when the color was mixed a little purple & red were dropped in. They are opposites on the color wheel so that takes it down just a notch (if you mix them 50/50 you get a neutral gray color). I only have one picture online but it will give you an idea:


  10. Thanks so much for the info and photo – that is a great color! I will definitely have to look at the SW color options and try to “translate” from my Behr picks. Can't wait to get some samples up on the walls… ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Katy, I'll send you a separate email about this, but for those following the discussion Benjamin Moore does have a no-VOC pigment, which is pretty cool, AND they recently introduced a lower cost (like $30-35 per gallon) low-VOC product line called “Ben” that, as I understand it, uses the exact same pigments, but without their more expensive hardeners. So, it should have the same no-VOC performance as their Aura line, but without the same cleaning performance (as in, if you wash the walls with soap and water, be prepared to throw away your washcloth… and you may have to repaint if you wash the same area frequently). The other good news is that we can use the Benjamin Moore color palate, which is just awesome.


  12. Oh, picking colors is SO stressful (I have an entire closet full of samples.) My new favorite method is to find colors other people have used and steal them! I think a bright colorful house is awesome though, can't wait to see paint on those walls.


  13. When you paint your samples do one that is both sides of a corner – sometimes a color seems to reflect itself & get more intense in the corners of a room – could be an issue with some of your colors or rooms.

    I'm sure you know to check out the test spots at all times of day – it is amazing the difference between morning, high noon, late afternoon, dusk & with lights on. Your biggest challenge will be getting an idea of the colors at night with lights on since you & furniture & lights aren't in the house yet.

    Probably the most crucial to get “right” is the yellowy green as that is both a hard color to work with and your hardest area to paint.

    Good luck – it all looks great – a truly amazing transformation!

    Orlando, FL


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